Good restaurant service no excuse for compromising kitchen rules
TWO OUTLETS OF THE hot pot chain Haidilao in Beijing have been shut down after media reports said mice were seen running on their kitchen floor and the tableware was dumped in a dirty sink with dustpans. Thepaper.cn commented on Saturday:
Haidilao responded within hours of the publication of the reports and offered a detailed plan to take corrective measures. Rather than making the kitchen staff the scapegoat, it said the management would take the bulk of the responsibility — an exemplary PR attempt to win hearts.
But to many who have almost unconditional faith in the hot pot chain, the exposure of compromised kitchen conditions comes as a rude shock. The hot pot catering company is more often known for its overconsiderate service than its food. Female customers waiting to get a table could be offered a free manicure, and those who forget to carry an umbrella on a rainy day may have a taxi waiting for them before they leave.
Such anecdotes have branded Haidilao as a caring company that always puts customers’ well-being before anything. Haidilao’s proper, timely response to the dirty kitchen reports is praiseworthy, but it makes little difference to the fact that like many underground food vendors, the hot pot “giant”, too, has dirty kitchens and careless kitchen staff who refuse to follow sanitary rules.
Contrary to popular perception, Haidilao’s catering service is far from being “impeccable”. Online promotion has become a common practice among many restaurants and food stores, which go to great lengths to lure potential customers and maintain the regular ones. They do not shy away even from questionable stunts — from hiring people to queue to paying for the endorsement of online opinion leaders — while paying little attention to the sanitary condition.
So the Haidilao management should draw a lesson from the busting of its service myth and take measures to ensure the kitchen and hygiene rules are fully implemented.
TAKEAWAY GARBAGE, particularly plastic packaging, is multiplying in Chinese office buildings and communities, raising concerns over the difficulties in disposing them. Beijing News commented on Sunday:
The burgeoning food delivery service is a trend toward which many have mixed feelings. True, it saves busy white-collar employees the trouble of going out to eat. But to deliver the food, restaurants use extra packaging made of polypropylene, which could be recycled but is not biodegradable.
One may be tempted to blame those people ordering takeaway food and paying little attention to environmental protection. But as long as it is legal and paid for, diners are free to enjoy the delivery service.
The root cause of the increasing takeaway garbage is the lackluster supervision. According to regulations, nonbiodegradable materials can be used for producing packaging material so long as they do not contain hazardous elements and are in line with food safety standards. As for biodegradability, there is no explicit legal guidance.
Which reminds us of the regulation to ban the use of plastic bags 10 years ago. Making consumers pay for the plastic bags in supermarkets didn’t stop people from using them, and very few would know that such bags can take up to 470 years to biodegrade.
Countries that have succeeded in reducing packaging waste have strict laws and supervision on the subject. So China’s environmental authorities need to establish higher standards for materials used in plastic meal boxes, support the waste sorting and recycling business, and provide incentives to restaurants that use green packaging.